The Boston Globe‘s H.D.S. Greenway, now retired from editorial posts at the paper, frequently devotes his weekly column to distorted hectoring of Israel. He inveighs against alleged Israeli faults, passes forgivingly over Palestinian rejectionism, and is often slippery with the facts.
An active board member and former vice chairman of the International Press Institute–a prestigious Vienna-based group of media owners, editors and officials–Greenway is in tune with those European colleagues who promulgate unabashedly hostile coverage of the Jewish state. Not long ago, IPI issued 50 “press freedom hero” awards, including one for Israel’s Amira Hass; among the most virulent critics of her own country, she was fined more than $60,000 not long ago by Israeli courts for fabricating vicious charges against residents of Hebron.
During its annual convention in September, IPI marked the 10th anniversary of Oslo with a panel featuring Yossi Beilin, architect of the failed peace effort. According to press reports, Beilin blamed Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon for the collapse.
Greenway’s columns offer similar distortions of reality, with Ariel Sharon excoriated for allegedly considering “force and repression… his only weapons.” Greenway is, of course, silent about even recent evidence to the contrary, such as the months in 2001 when, despite Israeli public clamor for action against the unprecedented slaughter of innocents by Palestinian terrorists, Sharon insisted on military restraint and patience, probing Arafat’s willingness to rein in terrorism.
Indeed, with familiar sloppiness, Greenway wrote after Israel’s incursion into Jenin in 2002: “One doesn’t need newly discovered, incriminating documents to prove that Arafat and the Palestinians have not lived up to their promise in Oslo to halt violence against Israel, just as one doesn’t need any more evidence that Ariel Sharon has violated Israel’s Oslo promise with the Palestinians. The proof lies with blown-apart buses and Jewish corpses in Jerusalem and in the rubble of Jenin and Nablus in the West Bank, where entire families were bulldozed to death as they cowered in terror in their homes. Suicide bombers have but one purpose, to kill and maim Israeli civilians, and you cannot fire antitank missiles from helicopters into crowded refugee camps and call the inevitable results ‘collateral damage.'”
There were no “entire families… bulldozed to death” in Jenin. As intensive investigations, even by pro-Palestinian groups such as B’Tselem, have shown, most of the victims were combatants, and the wild charge of “entire” Palestinian families bulldozed to death is propaganda. Such readiness to repeat false charges underlies the broader falsity in Greenway’s absurd equating of Arafat with Sharon as destroyers of Oslo. Ariel Sharon became prime minister a full eight years after the Oslo process was launched, and was elected only after the endeavor broke down in the worst terrorist violence since the founding of the state.
While evidence abounds regarding Yasser Arafat’s direct ties to terror and his goal of Israel’s destruction (Greenway should read Efraim Karsh’s important new book, Arafat’s War), the Globe writer is indifferent to this, railing instead against Israel’s insistence that Arafat be sidelined. He concedes in farcical understatement that Arafat is “deeply flawed” as well as “disappointing and vacillating,” yet insists repeatedly that he “is one of the few elected Arab leaders” and cannot be pushed aside.
Greenway’s avid defense of Arafat’s election ignores the facts of that single, unrepeated 1996 event in which the Palestinian leader prevented serious opposition by delaying the polling for more than a year while he routed local rivals, placing Fatah allies in crucial posts and assuring that his sole competitor was a 72-year-old grandmother.
But this is fine with Greenway, who deplores Israeli concerns, saying: “Palestinians could elect leaders, but only tame leaders acceptable to Israel, if the treatment of Arafat provides an example. It is similar to what apartheid South Africa had in mind for little black republics within its borders.”
The dishonesty of such argumentation is jaw-dropping. Yes, most Israelis are disenchanted with a man who has financed terror and exhorted his people to reject compromise in favor of genocidal hatred and violence. But to suggest that such a response is unreasonable and indicative of an Israeli demand for “only tame leaders” is patently false. Israel has consistently accepted the outstretched hand of any Arab leader offering peace–whether from Egypt or Jordan or a Palestinian unconnected with terrorism.
Likewise, Greenway’s casual invoking of the supposed Israel-South Africa link, a staple of anti-Israeli rhetoric, is one more instance of the extreme language encountered in the author’s commentary.
And while he offhandedly interjects such accusations of racist and brutal policy by Israel, he is mute about the anti-Semitic invective that pours out of Palestinian media, mosques, summer camps, schools and rallies.
While betraying journalistic standards of accuracy and objectivity, the Yale and Oxford-educated Greenway does remain true to the apparent biases of the Internation-al Press Institute and his European confreres. More’s the shame.